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Creamy Potato Gratin

by . Featured in NIGELLA BITES
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Introduction

My not entirely orthodox way of turning out this otherwise classic dish of cream-softened potatoes has a lot going for it.

My not entirely orthodox way of turning out this otherwise classic dish of cream-softened potatoes has a lot going for it.

Creamy Potato Gratin
Photo by Francesca Yorke

Ingredients

Serves: 6-8

Metric Cups
  • 2 kilograms floury potatoes (such as King Edward or Maris Piper)
  • 500 millilitres full fat milk
  • 500 millilitres double cream
  • 1 onion (peeled)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon soft sea salt flakes
  • approx. 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 4½ pounds floury potatoes (such as King Edward or Maris Piper)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 onion (peeled)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon soft sea salt flakes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 8/450ºF.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices, neither especially thin nor especially thick (approx. 1cm / ¼ inch) and put them into a large saucepan with the milk, cream, onion, minced garlic and salt. Bring to the boil and cook at a robust simmer or gentle boil (however you like to think of it) until verging on tender, but not dissolving into mush. The pan might be hell to clean afterwards, but any excuse for long, lazy soaking rather than brisk pre- or post-prandial scrubbing always appeals to me. And, for what it's worth, I find that when pans are really dauntingly, stuck with cooked-on gunge, it's more effective to soak them in hot water and detergent (ie, the stuff you put in the washing machine, though I haven't tried, and don't think I would, with tablets) rather than washing-up liquid.
  3. Use some of the butter to grease a large roasting tin (37 x 30cm / 15 x 12 inches) and then, after removing the onion, pour the almost sludgy milk and potato mixture into it. Dot with remaining butter and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until the potato is bubbly and browned on top. Remove, let stand for 10-20 minutes and then serve.
  4. This is not the most labour-saving way of cooking potatoes, to be sure, but one of the most seductive. And it reheats well as an accompaniment to cold roast pork, or indeed anything, in the days that follow.
  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 8/450ºF.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices, neither especially thin nor especially thick (approx. 1cm / ¼ inch) and put them into a large saucepan with the milk, cream, onion, minced garlic and salt. Bring to the boil and cook at a robust simmer or gentle boil (however you like to think of it) until verging on tender, but not dissolving into mush. The pan might be hell to clean afterwards, but any excuse for long, lazy soaking rather than brisk pre- or post-prandial scrubbing always appeals to me. And, for what it's worth, I find that when pans are really dauntingly, stuck with cooked-on gunge, it's more effective to soak them in hot water and detergent (ie, the stuff you put in the washing machine, though I haven't tried, and don't think I would, with tablets) rather than washing-up liquid.
  3. Use some of the butter to grease a large roasting tin (37 x 30cm / 15 x 12 inches) and then, after removing the onion, pour the almost sludgy milk and potato mixture into it. Dot with remaining butter and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until the potato is bubbly and browned on top. Remove, let stand for 10-20 minutes and then serve.
  4. This is not the most labour-saving way of cooking potatoes, to be sure, but one of the most seductive. And it reheats well as an accompaniment to cold roast pork, or indeed anything, in the days that follow.

Tell us what you think

What 14 Others have said

  • This is the best version I've used for this dish. I always make it for dinner parties whilst also doubling up and freezing portions for 2 in small lasagne dishes. I've started using a mandolin to slice the potatoes which halves the time!! Although they don't come out as quarter inch slices, it makes no difference whatsoever as long as quality potatoes are used.

    Posted by Carolinalisonyoung on 17th March 2015
  • Aaahh .. So that's what it's called. I had a similar dish, but more garlicky, in a restaurant back in the 70s. Loved it, and after a few attempts finally copycatted it. So it's been a mainstay for around 40 years. My version is milk with a bit of water added (doesn't seem to boil over as much) with lots of chopped garlic in the initial cooking, adding cream and more milk, if necessary, when it's time to go into the oven. Sometimes I add chopped chives, or parsley, coz the green bits make me think 'healthy'. In Australia a sort-of similar dish, and commonly encountered, is referred to as Potato Bake and the 'flavouring' comes in packets. Slice spuds into an oven dish, mix powder with liquid (milk, I think) and bake. The top potatoes are never cooked properly. And who knows what else is in the powder. Yuk! But pleased to say that my daughter cooks it as I do. BTW, I use laundry powder with a splash of ammonia to clean my oven racks and shelves. Soak overnight and the burnt gunk just washes off.

    Posted by Prickles on 5th March 2015
  • I have made a version of this with sauteed fennel and onions - absolutely delicious. My husband suggested it for Christmas!

    Posted by mburton on 11th December 2014
  • Best ever potato recipe Nigela .. Thanks.

    Posted by femmes on 30th August 2014
  • Fabulous recipe Nigella

    Posted by Deedag on 5th June 2014
  • Delicious.... It does take a bit of effort to make however, very worthwhile the end result. I made this dish as part of our xmas menu the day before to save time on xmas day. It reheated beautifully and my teen children fought over the left overs.

    Posted by Raywend on 26th December 2013
  • These potatoes are FAB and so easy! They are my standard 'go to' recipe (not that I need the recipe any more) for entertaining. We prefer it without the garlic, and I usually leave the onion in (I slice it). Have experimented with various additions/ammendments and it's always great. Our family's fave is onions, cream/milk, potatoes, salt and loads of nutmeg over the top. Delicious!

    Posted by ChampionCat on 19th December 2013
  • My daughter and son in law served a delicious potatoe dish at Thanksgiving and i asked for the recipe! Now I have it and i will make it tomorow for our family Christmas Eve dinner. It looks genial and so simple and the result is absolutely amazing. Cannot wait!

    Posted by totati on 24th December 2013
  • The tip for soaking pans in clothes washing detergent works best if you use a biological one. I think it must be the enzymes or something!

    Posted by katecat58 on 17th December 2013
  • Lovely recipe Nigella, and it speeds up the process as well! No matter how hot it is for Christmas Day in Australia, and no matter what else is on the menu, our family must have these potatoes. However, I prefer Elizabeth David's method of using the garlic with the butter to grease the cooking dish. This seems to be more subtle than including the garlic in with the potatoes. But, either way, this potato dish is the best use of cream that I can think of!

    Posted by dotdot on 16th November 2013
  • This is the best recipe for scalloped potatoes. I make this every year for Christmas dinner and my family and friends go nuts over them.

    Posted by jazzjazz on 2nd August 2013
  • Wow!! i made this for the first time last night with a beautiful fillet steak!! I am not the best cook at all, in fact if it can go wrong it will go wrong but my gosh this went off a hit! so easy but my guests thought I had been slaving in the kitchen all day, absolute perfection!! Love love love!!

    Posted by lauramichelle on 19th December 2012
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